Love And Care The First Step To Discipline
Building a good relationship through love and care sets the foundation for having positive experiences with children and helping them to understand when they have done something wrong.
According to Linda McKeone, team leader, SSWAHS Child Protection Counselling Services, there are three levels on which effective parenting is based.
"Just like a house that needs a solid foundation and structure before the roof is put on, discipline is most effective when it is supported by a good relationship with your children and prevention strategies," Ms McKeone said.
Step one to effective parenting is building good relationships with your children. This includes spending time together, giving praise and rewards for good work.
"A child is never too young for you to start building a positive relationship with them," Ms McKeone said.
"Even young babies will respond to communication, so lots of kisses and cuddles as well as talking and singing will help them know that they are important to you.
"Children love to have their say. Sharing meals at the table is a great way to encourage discussion," she said.
Step two is preventing problems
"Children do best when they have routines to follow and their day is predictable," Ms McKeone said.
"Setting a few house rules, boundaries and giving clear instructions reduces the need for discipline and can often reduce the stress on parents," she said.
The final step is managing difficult behaviour.
"Discipline guides children and lets them know the limits of behaviour in a safe, non-threatening way," Ms McKeone said.
"When you use distraction, redirection or consequences like loss of privileges and time out, this helps children learn self discipline.
"It's not only what you say that is important, but how you say it. Your body language is critical in letting your child know how serious you are," she said.
Ms McKeone said that one of the keys to effective parenting is ensuring that both parents agree on the discipline boundaries and stick to them.